Talking Location With author Katharine Swartz – WHITEHAVEN and the LAKE DISTRICT
Novel set on a cruise liner in the Caribbean
4th September 2019
The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland, novel set on a cruise liner in the Caribbean.
Joining the Feldmans on the Ocean Queen would be my idea of hell. Clearly Annette, sporadic matriarch of the Feldman clan doesn’t agree. She has booked for her family to spend 4 nights and 5 days on the snazzy liner with its capacity for 3000 guests, 1300 crew, its 18 floors (decks, that should be), 12 restaurants, ice skating rink, bowling alley, 1000 seat live theatre and IMAX cinema. There are organised activities 24/7. She is celebrating her 70th birthday in style and it is certainly costing her a bob or two.
Food is a currency in the family “Chewing kept the Feldmans’ mouths occupied, which saved them from myriad arguments, misunderstandings, and offenses“. This doesn’t really bode well, does it, for them all to be stuck in this luxurious but confined space? This is certainly a cruise ship that anticipates its guests to knock back 6000 calories per day (yikes, there is the obesity problem in a nutshell!). The author wonderfully – and horrifically – describes the bunfight of mealtimes and all because the food is free. Imagine an ice cream dispenser that churns out chocolate and vanilla without stop!
In the party are her two children – son Freddy (with his surprise ‘guest’ Natasha who is several decades younger) and daughter Elise, accompanied by her husband Mitch and their two children Darius and Rachel. There are a lot of secrets which are just waiting to be unravelled. Elise has a shopping addiction and speaks with her therapist in secret. No-one knows but one of her children comes across evidence. Mitch has quit his job (but his wife doesn’t know). And Freddy, oh Freddy, the son and “loser” of the family, has always been outshone by his sister Elise. The family script has him down as someone who is a serial loser. But wait. He lives in Colorado and do you know what is legal in that state? No? Well, pot is legal and he runs farms and several retail outlets purely for medicinal and recreational use. That happens to make him pretty wealthy but his family has absolutely no idea. It’s quite possible, however, that they are going to find out….
There is plenty of material in this novel for dramatic turns and flamboyant scenes. The author writes very well and is a pert observer of human and generational interaction. The narrative is full of wry and witty insights, dotted with some poignancy, and Friedland eloquently describes situations that will be familiar to many of her readers. A funny, heart warming and poignant read. It does however slow down towards the end and loses its peppy prose (yes, almost like it has run out of steam).
The cover, though doesn’t really do justice to the quality of the content; don’t let it put you off buying it.
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